Denali - Some Facts you Didn't Know

Denali in Alaska

Located in the Alaska Range, Denali is the centrepiece of the Denali National Park and Preserve. Denali, once called Mount McKinley, is the tallest mountain in North America. The mountain's peak is 20,310 feet (6,190 meters) above sea level, which also makes it the third highest of the Seven Summits — the highest mountains on each of the seven continents — following Mount Everest in Nepal and Aconcagua in Argentina. By some measures, it could be considered the third tallest mountain in the world.

Some Measures?

Did you know there is a difference between the measuring of the ‘tallest’ mountain and the ‘highest’ mountain? No? Neither did I until I started to get some research in about the mountains I wanted to climb.

The highest mountain is determined by measuring a mountain's highest point above sea level. The tallest mountain is measured from the base to the summit. If we use the second measurement, Denali is taller than Mount Everest!

Denali rises about 18,000 feet (5,500 meters) from its base, which is a greater vertical rise than Everest's 12,000-foot rise (3,700 meters) from its base at 17,000 feet (5,200 meters).

Mount McKinley?

The native Koyukon people call the mountain “Denali” which is usually translated as ‘The Great One’ and sometimes ‘The High One.’

During the Russian ownership of Alaska, the common name for the mountain was ‘Bolshaya Gora’ which is the Russian translation of Denali.

The mountain had been unofficially named Mount McKinley in 1896 by a gold prospector, and officially by the United States government in 1917 to commemorate William McKinley, who was president of the United States from 1897 until his assassination in 1901. 

The park was established as Mount McKinley National Park in 1917. The state of Alaska officially changed the name to Denali in 1975 and asked the federal government to do so too. President Barack Obama approved the name change in 2015, and its now officially called Denali!

Denali's climate

The upper half of Denali is permanently covered with snow and lots of large glaciers, some more than 30 miles (48 km) long!

The mountain is known for its extremely cold weather. It can be as low as −75.5 °F (−59.7 °C) with wind chill down to −118.1 °F (−83.4 °C), which could freeze a human in an instant! An automated weather station at 18,700 feet (5,700 meters) records temperatures.

Climbing Denali

There are many guides who lead climbing trips to Denali, and it is classified as an extremely challenging expedition due to the severe weather and the difficulty in acclimating. Due to its far northern latitude of 63 degrees, Denali has lower barometric pressure than the world's other high mountains.

An estimated 32,000 climbers have attempted Denali with about a 50% success rate. In a typical year, 1,300 people try to climb Denali. One in 200 climbers who attempt to climb the mountain dies trying, but many more lives are saved by the efforts of the Park Service rangers and volunteers.

Unlike Everest, Denali has a staff of trained experts who patrol the mountain to educate and to take care of mountaineers faced with the extremes of arctic mountaineering.

Some Climbing History

  • 1903 - James Wickersham recorded the first attempt at climbing Denali, which was unsuccessful.
  • 1906 - Frederick Cook claimed the first ascent, which was later proven to be false.
  • 1913 - The first verifiable ascent to Denali’s summit was achieved by Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper, and Robert Tatum, who went by the South Summit.
  • 1947- The first woman to reach the summit is Barbara Washburn, at the same time her husband Bradford Washburn becomes the first person to reach the summit twice.
  • 1951 - Bradford Washburn pioneered the West Buttress route, which is considered to be the safest and easiest route, and therefore the most popular one in current use.

Any Twihards out there?

Denali Coven from Twilight

Did you know Denali features in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga books and the following film adaptations? It is known for being the home of the ‘vegetarian’ Denali coven, consisting of Tanya, Irina, Carmen, Kate, Eleazar, and later Garrett. The city is located close to the Denali National Park, which has a large supply of game that the Denali coven can feed on. The Cullens lived in Denali for a while, before moving to Forks, Washington, as the presence of so many vampires starts to become too noticeable. Edward escaped to Denali at the beginning of Twilight to escape Bella and her torments.

Bonus: Denali Wall Art, Posters, T-shirts and Phone Case

We would love to climb this peak. It's a tough one with the weight carry and the extreme temperatures. This is definitely one to aspire to. What do you think of our Denali collection?


Leave a comment

Name .
Message .

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published